Olivia De Beukelaer has recently relocated from London to Rotterdam. She will discover more of Rotterdam with Weekends in Rotterdam by writing monthly guestblogs.
She will mostly write reviews about various hotspots in the city, such as restaurants, cute lunchrooms, breakfast spots and more!
In her first guestblog Olivia writes about 6 curious things she’s discovered about Rotterdam from an expat point of view.
Welcome to my first Weekends in Rotterdam blogpost! Just before the start of 2018, I relocated from London to Rotterdam. I now live, work, eat, keep fit and go out in the city, and take every opportunity to explore my new home. Back in London, I worked for the capital’s online visitor guide (known as Visit London), as well as a bar and restaurant review site. So I got to know London pretty well, and I loved sharing my knowledge of the city with tourists and locals.
Now that I’m in Rotterdam, I look forward to doing the same through my contributions to Weekends in Rotterdam. As guest blogger, I’ll mostly be reviewing the city’s food and drink scene. But I’ll also be keeping an eye out for any other opportunity that might come my way – who knows where this city will take me!
Being new to Rotterdam and the Netherlands in general, I am only now discovering the culture and design of the city. As expected, I’ve come across a number of things that are unfamiliar and surprising to me. So, to kick things off, I’ve rounded up the most curious aspects of Dutch culture and Rotterdam quirkiness I’ve experienced so far.
1. Fireworks madness on New Year’s Eve
Starting early on the evening of New Year’s Eve, the Dutch go wild for fireworks. From busy roads and public squares to quiet residential areas, nowhere is off limits. The bangs and blasts of fireworks around the city are so constant that they merge into a deafening continuous noise. It’s as if the city is under attack during a thunderstorm. It’s a loud but dazzling spectacle, which certainly kicks off the New Year with a bang!
Check out these New Years Eve Parties in Rotterdam.
2. The tilted Cube Houses of Rotterdam
Unusual and innovative architectural projects are dotted around Rotterdam. But one particularly striking structure which keeps me puzzled is the city’s Cube Houses (or Kubuswoningen in Dutch): bright yellow cube homes which are tilted at a 45-degree angle.
Yes, people do live in them. But no, I don’t understand how windows at 45-degree angles work.
3. Battling through the metro’s two-way system
A strange setup that can be found across the Rotterdam metro are the two-way gates and escalators. Debatably useful during off-peak travel times, it’s another story during busy periods.
If you arrive at the entry gates as a crowd of people are coming out, the race is on. First one to reach their gate wins. And, if that person wasn’t you, you’ll have to wait it out as the outgoing group hijacks the entire row of gates.
Same goes for the two-way escalators. As you approach a motionless escalator, you can only hope that someone else isn’t about to reach the other end first.
4. Chocolate sprinkles in all shapes and sizes
This is not a curious thing about Rotterdam in particular, but the Netherlands in general. Being originally from Belgium, I am partial to a slice of bread topped with chocolate sprinkles (hagelslag) for breakfast.
But the Dutch take this one step further. Supermarket aisles are filled with an amazing array of the national delicacy, loved by children and adults alike. You can take your pick from white, milk and dark chocolate sprinkles, chocolate shavings, aniseed and fruit-flavoured variations, Minion-shaped sprinkles and more.
5. The orange glow of Westland
As you travel into Rotterdam from The Hague or another northerly location at night, you might spot the warm glow of a sunset or sunrise spreading across the horizon. Actually, what you’re most likely looking at, are the rows and rows of Westland greenhouses. Also known as the Glass City, this area is the heart of Holland’s greenhouse horticulture. The greenhouses are artificially lit through the night to accelerate plant growth, filling the night sky with orange clouds of light.
6. Rotterdam’s nicknames
You might notice the terms “Roffa” and “010” often popping up within a Rotterdam context. It turns out that Roffa is essentially Rotterdam’s street name, while 010 refers to the city’s telephone dialling code. These Rotterdam nicknames are often used by local businesses, city events and more. Useful information to have for those all-important Instagram hashtags!
As I continue to explore this dynamic city, I look forward to discovering its many more quirks and lively culture. Look out for my next guest posts and reviews, and join my Rotterdam adventures on Instagram @olivia.in.rotterdam